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Magnificent Obsessions @ Barbican

Magnificent Obsessions @ Barbican

Image: from the collection of Pae White © VNIP Holdings, LLC

The lives of artists have always fascinated us. Ever since Vasari penned his famous biographies in the 16th century, the motivations, inspirations, lifestyles and accoutrements of our favourite painters and sculptors have been a constant curiosity. Andy Warhol’s famously enormous collection of possessions inspired an entire museum in Pittsburgh, and Salvador Dali and Gustave Moreau are just two of many artists whose homes have been preserved just as they left them – later opened to a public, hoping for a deeper understanding of their former inhabitants.

Never before though, have the possessions of a number of artists been brought together, for display in a recreation of these ‘collections’ in an exhibition space. Now London’s Barbican Centre has done just this, bringing together collections from the artists including Martin Parr, Sol LeWitt, Damien Hirst, Hiroshi Sugimoto and, of course, Andy Warhol, in a fantastic examination of these individuals and the objects, designs pieces and artworks that have informed their own practice. Varying in number, from less than 20, to over 3000, and including everything from Hirst’s skulls to Warhol’s cookie jars, these collections range from the chaotic to systematic, and from the more expected to the thrillingly unpredictable.

The exhibition gives the viewer the opportunity to delve into the minds of these great artists, by letting us explore the physical objects that not only inspire(d), but also represent the daily lives of, each of these extraordinary characters. By sharing these personal treasures, The Barbican provide us with unparalleled insight into both their working and private lives, in a way that even their own work may not. A must see.

‘Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector’, at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, from 12 February to 25 May 2015:


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